Becoming An Awareness Advocate

blog epilepsyLocal teen rallies for increased epilepsy awareness

Epilepsy affects 65 million people worldwide and is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States, according to the Epilepsy Foundation’s (EF) website. Despite the prevalence of the condition both in the United States and in the world, the website argues that “epilepsy is among the least understood of major chronic medical conditions.”

Monterey Coast Preparatory School student Samantha Hampton agrees, and hopes to change this. The local teen has epilepsy, and is taking strides to improve awareness about the condition.

In an effort to spread the word, she decided to become an advocate for the Northern California branch of EF. “I wish to help anyone with epilepsy and want to raise as much awareness as possible,” she says. “Knowing that I could help make a difference in someone’s life, [which] includes raising awareness, [gives] us hope that people might finally understand and accept it.”

In June, Hampton’s awareness efforts involved gathering 250 signatures in support of the Raising Awareness and Insight into Seizures and Epilepsy (RAISE) Act, a bill drafted by EF that aimed to help to teach employers, teachers, and first responders about epilepsy and how to help in the event of a seizure.  

Throughout September and October, she is passing out up to 500 “Get Seizure Smart” quizzes. In November, she will do “30 Days 30 Ways,” a month “where you do one different thing each day to help raise awareness,” she says.  

Also in November, in honor of National Epilepsy Awareness Month, Hampton will be promoting the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California’s (EFNC) 2012 Candlelight Gala. The Friday, Nov. 2 event will feature an evening of entertainment, an elegant dinner, and both live and silent auctions at the historic Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

Despite its challenges, Hampton says epilepsy has played an important role in her life.  “I would not be the person I am today without it,” she says. “It really teaches you to appreciate life and the people you love.”  

Even though it has been an undeniable struggle for her over the years, and friends have been lost due to her condition, Hampton says she has come to realize that along with the bad comes much good. “Overall, it makes me who I am,” she says. “I’ve met some amazing people because of it. Epilepsy is serious and hard to deal with sometimes, but in the end, it’s a part of me.”

Tickets for the 2012 Candlelight Gala can be purchased on the EFNC’s website at epilepsynorcal.org. The ceremony will be held on Friday, Nov. 2 from 6 – 9:30 p.m. at 465 California St., San Francisco.

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